How often have you lifted your pets lip, put it back down again and tried to ignore what you have just seen? You are not alone!!
Over 80% of cats and dogs over the age of 3 require dental treatment.
Dental disease is preventable!
What is dental disease?
Dental disease is caused by plaque bacteria which results in inflammation of the gums
Inflammation can be recognised as redness, swelling and possible bleeding
Damage to the fibres which hold the tooth in place can result in tooth loss
Tartar is hardened and calcified plaque and is a great surface for the formation of new plaque so the cycle continues
The good news is tartar can be removed by your vet, but your pet will require an anaesthetic
The signs of dental disease
There are many symptoms your pet may exhibit that are caused by dental disease. Many of these are also present when your pet is unwell for other reasons.
Some of the symptoms are listed below:-
Pain – such as reluctance to play or eat, pawing at the mouth or pain on examination
Redness - inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
Bad breath (Halitosis)
Calculus/tartar build up
Pus - purulent discharge
If you think your pet may be experiencing one or more of these symptoms, why not book in for a free dental check with one of our nurses?
Our nurses run daily clinics where they can give you advice on how to clean your pet's teeth. They are also able to offer advice on many other aspects of your pet's wellbeing.
How you can help at home?
There are many products available now which help to slow down the build up of plaque on your pet's teeth.
Dental chews help by removing some of the plaque as your dog bites down on them. They also increase the production of saliva, the body's natural protection against the bacteria that produce plaque.
Specially designed foods are available that reduce plaque, stain and tartar build up. Unique kibble shape, size and fibre technology mimics brushing action promoting good overall oral health.
Mouth washes that are designed to be swallowed can be used to reduce the bacteria in the mouth that produce plaque and bad breath.
Vet aquadent drinking water additive helps fight plaque and tartar formation. This product does contain trace amounts of xylitol (harmful to dogs in large quantities) however, if used correctly is and effective tool in preventative care where brushing or diet is not an option.
The gold standard of dental care however is brushing your pet's teeth:
There are many pet tooth brushes available. Specially designed finger brushes allow more ease of control.
You must always use pet toothpaste. Human products are not designed to be swallowed. Most contain detergents and fluoride that will cause upset stomachs.
You will only gain the benefits if you perform your dental care regime daily, just as you would for yourselves.
Start off at a young age - ideally as soon as you get your bundle of fluff home
Introduce brushing slowly. Don't expect to be able to apply toothpaste and brush in to the mouth straight away.
Gently stroke the outside of your pet's cheeks with your finger only (no brush) and slowly lift the lip for about 30 seconds. Reward, praise and treat at the end of the session.
Repeat as above and also place a small amount of toothpaste on the end of your finger and let your pet sample it.
Repeat Day 2 but this time gently run your finger or fingerbrush and a small amount of toothpaste over your pet's teeth for 30-45 seconds under the lip. Reward with a treat and praise.
As above adding 15 seconds time to running your finger or fingerbrush over your pet's teeth.
If all is going well run your finger over the teeth for 30 seconds and then gently insert the toothbrush and again run over the teeth for 30 seconds.
Repeat as Day 5 and increase the time by 30 seconds.
By now you should be aiming to spend at least one minute on each side of the mouth.
Ensure you introduce brushing your pet's teeth slowly: always be patient, always praise and reward; always stop if there is any sign of aggression/ anxiety.
Contact the practice or come to one of our nurse clinics for further information. Alternatively visit www.petsmile.org